Best Places to visit in Varanasi or Banaras -Varanasi Travel Guide
This travel guide will describe about the best places to visit in varanasi or list of places to visit in varanasi. Varanasi is located in the south-east corner of the Indian state, Uttar Pradesh. The city has renowned as the oldest living city on this planet. The quote seems to be right as this city has a prominent place in Mahabharat and Ramayan. I was so excited to visit a place that is so old, a place that is older than history. in this varanasi travel guide I will explain to you all the important things to do in Varanasi or Banaras.
Varanasi travel guide
Banaras is well-connected with trains and flights with Delhi and other cities. The railway station is on the Delhi-Kolkata route. So, all the trains moving on the route bounds to stop either at Banaras or Mughalsarai or both. Mughalsarai railway station has recently renamed as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Junction and is barely 18km away from Banaras railway station. Banaras also has International Airport and it attracts loads of Indian and international tourists every year. Consequently, the city has numerous 4 and 5-star hotels from almost all the established brands to cater to the high inbound tourist traffic.
My choice was a train journey to Banaras and I loved it. The overnight journey started from Delhi, I booked a ticket in Shiv-Ganga express. The train starts and terminates at Maduadih, a small station in Banaras. So, no need to rush to board or deboard the train.
Worlds second tallest temple was my first destination in Varanasi travel guide
My first point of interest was the New Vishwanath Temple also known as Birla Temple which is oe of the places to visit in varanasi. It is the second most famous temple and important tourist attraction in the holy city of Banaras. The temple is located inside the lush green campus of Banaras Hindu University and on the southmost corner of the city. Temple is barely 2 km from the main gate of the university.
Three-wheelers are available at the main gate, but a paddle rickshaw will give you a more soothing experience passing through many green tunnels. In this two km stretch, you can count a thousand trees on both sides of the road. BHU campus is densely green and the temple is situated in the middle of the campus. At the first sight of the temple, I was mesmerized for a few moments. The temple is all covered with white marble and is so tall that seems it is almost touching the clouds. It is gigantic and at the same time very beautiful.
The temple area is clean and well maintained. The air inside the premises was tranquil with the occasional sound of bells and the crowd was thin. After spending some time in the temple, I rested myself under a tree. Simply sitting on the lawn gave a feeling of emptiness. The entire atmosphere around the temple was forcing me towards spiritualism. The experience was great and I will cherish it for a long time.
Just to add that ‘Qutub Minar’ in Delhi is 240 feet tall and this temple stands a few feet taller than the Qutub Minar, at 252 feet. To click a photograph of the entire temple in one frame, unless not using some fisheye lens, one needs to struggle for a suitable spot far from the temple and there are only 2-3 such spots to get a good frame.
Banaras Hindu University aka BHU main entrance : Glamour of Varanasi travel guide
The campus is bigger than my imagination. It is so big that it can not be seen properly in one visit. It was built by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1916 and currently it has more than 30,000 students.
While coming back towards the city from New Vishwanath Temple which is one of the best places to visit in Varanasi, the first market area is only outside BHU campus. Here, one can find small eateries serving authentic and vegetarian Indian snacks. I barely found nonvegetarian food sold out in open anywhere in the city. However, Banaras is not a zero non-veg city like Haridwar or Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.
Dashashwamedh Ghat on the river Ganga was my next point of attraction in Varanasi travel guide
Dashashwamedh Ghat which is one of the best places to visit in Varanasi, is the main ghat and is situated in the heart of the city. This Ganga ghat is very close to the ancient and famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple, it will take a 15 min walk to reach the temple via Vishvanath lane. Photograph has prohibited in and around this temple. Dashashwamedh Ghat is the most spectacular ghat among the entire 88 ghats this city has. All the ghats and nearby areas are full of picture-perfect subjects for Photographs and Sketching artists. I found many Fine Arts students practicing pencil sketch or painting on steps of these ghats. Many photographers could see with DSLRs looking for a perfect shot.
Unlike New Vishwanath Temple, Dashashwamedh Ghat was abuzz with life. It had pilgrims who came from across the country in groups, it had locals taking a holy dip in the Ganga, it had people who came to Banaras for some customary or ritual like shraddh or mumdan.
Ganga aarti is the most happening ceremony on this ghat. A couple of thousand tourists and locals attends it. The aarti starts post-sunset and lasts for about 45 minutes. There is also a better option available to experience Ganga aarti from the riverside. The state government authorities operate a luxury cruise liner named Alaknanda. Tickets can be booked online at INR 750 per person. I took a ride on Alaknanda the next evening.
Subahe-Banaras(morning of Varanasi travel guide) program on Assi Ghat:
Next morning, I tried to get up early before the city gets up. To my surprise, the city was already awake though it was still dark outside. Banaras is famous for its morning like Awad(now Lucknow) is for the evenings. If you miss the morning of Banaras, you will miss the essence of your trip. The most important early morning program happens on Assi ghat and it has organized daily. The program has called Subahe-Banaras(morning of Banaras).
The program started a little before sunrise with hawan followed by Ganga aarti which filled the air with holy chants in Sanskrit. These chants were about bringing truth, reality, peace, love, and knowledge to the world.
By this time the sun started to sneak from the horizon. After Ganga aarti, started a musical performance on a small stage. It was an Indian classical vocal performance by a group of students from a nearby Music College. So, I had the sun slowly coming out on the horizon and blending saffron in the surroundings, cold breeze coming from the river and touching my face, and a spectacular event of Indian classical music by skilled vocalists for my ear and soul. By this time my experience already turned from good to great. The atmosphere there was real magnetic.
Subahe-Banaras program culminated with a Yoga performance cum training by a Yog-guru. This entire program lasted for two hours and is free for all. It was only 7 am now, my day started and I already had witnessed and participated in this great event. I felt that my mind and body are full of energy for rest of the day. People here must have a longer day to spend, as they get up a couple of hours earlier than others like me.:).
Visit to the Birthplace of Rani Laxmi Bai: Historical place in Varanasi travel guide
The birthplace of the great Queen of Jhasi, Rani Laxmi Bai is just a hundred meters from the venue of Subahe-Banaras on Assi ghat which is one of the best places to visit in Varanasi . It was a place sacred and very high on my priority list. I wanted to visit her birthplace to pay tribute and respect to one of the greatest freedom fighters of our country. She was born in Banaras on 19 November 1828. Only recently, this place makes converted to a memorial. Now, it has a beautiful and very tall statue of the queen riding a horse.
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My experience on the luxury cruise liner Alaknanda Best
places to visit in varanasi:
The cruise Alaknanda started its journey before sunset from Assi ghat on the southern corner of the city and the journey lasted for about 2 hours. I booked a ticket online and in advance. The onboard guide explained the importance and history of all the famous ghats seen en route. It had a big LCD screen to run some informative documentaries about the city and its ghats. The cruise traveled from one corner of the city to the other and anchored right at the place of Ganga aarti for about 30 minutes during its return journey.
By the time it reached the right spot in front of Dashashwamedh Ghat, the sky was already pitch dark making the sight of aarti even more beautiful and dramatic. It is worth spending two hours and 750 bucks for a ride on cruise Alaknanda to have this wholesome experience.
Places to visit in varanasi Durga temple and Durga Kund:
Durga Temple, also known as Durga Kund Mandir, is another famous temple in Banaras. It was constructed in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani Rani Bhabani of Natore. Unlike Kashi Vishvanath temple, one can click photographs in this temple. Nearby areas are free of tall buildings and the temple is visible from a distance. However, in the case of Kashi Vishvanath temple, is situated in a densely populated area and has high-security arrangements in and around the temple. Camera and mobile phones are not making allowed inside the temple area. Durga Temple is 1.5 km from BHU main entrance, 5 km from Manduadih railway station, and 6 km from Banaras Cantt Railway station. The temple premise has a big pond which has covered most of the expanse. The pond makes illuminated by colourful lights post sunset and looks more beautiful.
Two things of Banaras are very famous in the country. One is Banarasi Pan and the other is Banarasi Sari. People here are polite and supportive to travelers. Har-har-Mahadev is customary greeting of locals. I planned a rowing-boat ride and visit to some more ghats on the third and last day of my trip before boarding train in the evening to Delhi.
The city pushes you to try to look for the sheer purpose of your existence. It also offers solace and tranquility. Now I knew, why travellers from across the world throg this city. The more you explore Banaras, the more surprises it will offer to you.
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